HOME > BLOG > Budgeting and Saving > Spend or save: A guide to cash-savvy renovations

If you’re looking to invest in your home by renovating, it can be difficult to know what is worth splashing some cash on and where you can take a few shortcuts and save some dollars. Read below for our guide to cash-savvy renovations that will reap rewards for your property’s value.

It’s no secret that the housing market has seen better days. According to the Domain House Price Report, property prices nationally have declined by almost eight per cent in the last year.

For many, thoughts of selling are now turning to thoughts of renovating, as home owners look to make the most of what they already have; at least until the property market warms up again.

So is now the time to go for gold and splash out on your dream kitchen or to add in a raft of high-end luxury features to your home? Savvy homeowners know where to spend their dollars to add value, without over capitalising.

A good place to start is to set your overall renovation budget. A standard renovation, without serious structural changes, should cost no more than 5-10 per cent of your property’s overall value.

From here, you may need to increase your budget up another 1-2 per cent if you are in a solidly performing suburb or do the reverse if prices in your suburb are in decline.

If you are planning on carrying out major structural works, you should spend no more than 40 per cent of the property’s value – any more and you could overreach on the real value of the home.

If you know you will be renovating multiple rooms or spaces within the home make sure you have a plan to ensure that the design in each space will complement the other.

scandinavian-classic-kitchen-wooden-white-details-minimalistic-interior-design Consider your kitchen renovation budget carefully – it can be easy to over capitalise

In the kitchen

    Kitchens are one of the easiest parts of the home to over capitalise. For a full kitchen renovation – make sure your budget does not exceed more than two per cent of the property’s value.

    Spend: A quality benchtop (granite, marble, Caesarstone or Quartz) is a must for homeowners wanting to add genuine value to their property. High-end appliances with well-known brand names are also high on the list of must-haves for buyers and are worth splurging on.

    Save: With many different options for cabinets available, this is one area of the kitchen where you can make some savings. Instead of custom options, consider a flat-pack solution that can be tailored to your kitchen. Choosing tiles over an expensive backsplash can also allow you to achieve your dream kitchen look without breaking the bank. 

In the bathroom

    As with the kitchen, any more than two per cent of the property’s value will be too much. Set your bathroom renovation budget and stick to it!

    Spend: Replacing a tired or grubby looking shower screen can transform a bathroom. To meet modern tastes – it’s hard to beat frameless options. Splashing cash on a beautiful stone-top vanity will also help to quickly transform a tired looking bathroom.

    Save: Tiles may be small but the cost can quickly add up. Keep your renovation costs down by tiling only half way up the wall or using expensive decorative tiles as feature on only one of the walls. Refinishing the bathtub or refreshing grout can also be inexpensive and fast ways to bring a tired bathroom back to life. 


    Spend: In high traffic areas of the home (such as the kitchen) quality is a must. Whether it is wood or tile you’ll want these much-used spaces in the home to look good when it comes time to sell.

    Save: There are some great new laminate flooring options that can look terrific and cost substantially less than hardwood flooring or tiles. Consistency will be key to catching the eye of buyers in the future, so ensure there is a natural flow from room-to-room. 


    Spend: First impressions count, so if you are looking to revamp the outside of your home then start at the front. Invest in the fence, front gate, front door and screen doors to refresh the facade. A beautiful green lawn and established, low maintenance, plants will create an inviting and attractive entry to your home.

    Save: Pathways and pergola areas can often be revived with a bit of TLC. Hire a power-washer first to see if old bricks and pathways in the garden can be brought back to life with a little elbow grease. Pot plants with a pop of floral colour are also a great and inexpensive way to create new, seasonal, features in the garden – without breaking the bank. 

The opinions expressed in this article are the opinions of the author(s) and not necessarily those of State Custodians. The above is general commentary only and is not advice tailored to any individual’s financial situation. We recommend seeking advice from a mortgage or finance professional before implementing changes relating to your finances.

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